Thursday, June 28, 2007

Your Thursday To-Do List

1) Participate in The Blushing Ladies meme. (Which means make your post, then make your rounds!)

2) Submit your best post of the week (from last Friday through today) to the Sugasm (NWS).

3) Vote for The Marketing Whore:
My site was nominated for Best Marketing Blog!
3-a) While you're there, make someone's day. Think of someone to nominate ~ there's not a specific adult or sex category, but they do allow for such blogs (be sure to flag them properly!)
4) Find (at least) one new meme, gadget, directory, linkswap, resource to share with the others here. (Just post 'em in the comments section, kids.)

5) Step away from the Internet for 10 minutes. Take a quick walk, eat a piece of pie, whatever. Just step away for a break.

6) Come back to see what others have posted as a tips and resources.
6-a) Pick 3 of them to act on now.

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Sit on my Face(book)

Oh, I wish I'd have coined this but I didn't.

Of course, I'm also not the misogynist who thought up a show based on how often "you feel like hitting the missus."

Spend some time looking at this guy's imaginations of life as a TV Controller.

Fiction, spoof or real?

I'm not sure whether I'm to laugh or cry. Or maybe get postal.

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What's Your Frequency, Kenneth?

According to eMarketer and the Atlas Institute, two-thirds of consumers bought a product (or took another responsive action) were reached by ads across multiple portal sites before converting:
The study, conducted in the first quarter of 2007, found that US consumers were more likely to convert after viewing ads on multiple Web sites, suggesting that conversions should be attributed to a full set of impressions and/or clicks, rather than just the single one that preceded the conversion.
Nine in 10 consumers who converted were reached by placements other than the last ad seen. Also, 86.1% of ads which led to a responsive action were seen on multiple placements.

This reminded me of one of the early 'facts' of the Internet. It was said, back in the day, that a person needed to visit your site six times in order to make a purchase. (This is where the repeat visitor stat came in ~ it was vital information!) Part of the reasoning for the behavior was said to be the need to be familiar and comfortable enough with the website. Would the website be there tomorrow? After 'finding themselves there' six times, they felt more assured of the site/company's stability. Also after 'finding themselves there' six times, the consumer knows they really do want what they are offering.

Seeing ads six or more times, across six or more sites, etc would be similar. Point at it once; I'm not so sure about it (the product) or you (the company). Point at it several times; and I might be interested... And while a person who sees your ad on one site while reading an article may not have the money to buy or the time to even click right then and there, another ad at another place is a reminder later.

I didn't read/buy the whole study report and so have no idea if they have a suggested magical number, let alone if it was six, but the number part is irrelevant, really. It's not six, or 3.4, or whatever number you've heard. If you don't believe me, believe Dr. Roger Wimmer. And this isn't really earth-shattering news to most of us. We know that ad frequency and repetition is important, even if the number isn't universal. Yes, Virginia (and Kenneth), frequency is important, even on the Internet:
Results from the analyses suggest that frequency can be a powerful determinant of advertising effectiveness. Specifically, it is found that the frequency effects were significant on ad recall, attitude toward brand, and trial intention.
From Penn State's Media Effects Research Laboratory (2002).

What is most usable from all of this is to note that frequency is important. Ads seen more often and across more sites translates to more memorable ads. So while your click-through and conversion rates may not seem very great, you should consider the whole campaign's effectiveness in light of it's frequency. And you need to plan with frequency in mind. Even with a small or non-existent ad budget it is possible to increase frequency.

This includes all media, such as radio, print etc. While one doesn't expect a person to pull over to the side of the road and flip-open their cell to 'order now' just from hearing an ad spot on the radio, these ads do increase recall so it's entirely possible that when they return home they'll just type in your URL or Google your company or product name. Or click & buy from the very next ad for your product they see ~ just because you've now hit their own personal magic number.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Click-Through Rates

No one's asked lately, but here's more related to the history post and click-through rates (CTRs are the number of clicks divided by number of views or impressions). Here's some info on click-through rates sitting at half a percent (Jim Meskauskas, 2001):
In fact, CTRs are finally more in line with what is seen in the direct-response offline world. One-half of one percent is about what an advertiser can expect from a direct mail effort. Now that the web population is more reflective of the world at large, the kinds of things people do online and the regularity with which they do them will also mimic the offline world.
Which some people would say we shouldn't settle for anyway. But it's information I find interesting.

As Jim Meskauskas continues to say:
I think we are witnessing another sign that this industry is maturing: atrophy, consolidation, and stability showing in selected metrics. And the first metric to demonstrate this stability is the click-through rate.
While I've seen no number or averages for the adult industry (a tight-lipped lot), I can't imagine that overall performance is any different. At least the pattern of falling then steadying is what I've seen, and I do trust my own numbers.

Recent changes in behavioral targeting (BT) have generated stronger results. (Think of Contextual Targeting as the "more like this" in articles or Google ads, and BT as the "you might also like" at Amazon which takes in your behaviors including previous purchases.) Not surprising that it works; but also more than a bit creepy to many.

However, new information indicates that while BT and even what I'd call just plain old well-targeted ads may produce higher click-through rates, it is the advertising out of context which seems to generate the higher conversion rates.

At first this seems strange; shouldn't the best targeted ads generate the most interest? But we're talking about two dimensions here: well-targeted ads and context.

From Study: Behavioral Ads Convert Better Out of Context (Kevin Newcomb, October, 2006):
For most advertisers doing direct marketing, it makes more sense to serve behaviorally targeted ads in a different context than the behavior, such as serving ads targeting golf enthusiasts on a cooking site, he said. For behaviorally targeted ads shown in a different content category than that of the behavior, overall CTR is 108 percent higher and overall ATR is 19 percent higher than ads shown in the same category. ATR was higher in 5 of the nine segments with more than 10 million impressions.

If an advertiser is primarily concerned with driving traffic, then behaviorally targeted ads in the same category will perform better. CTR for ads shown in the same content category as behavior is 56 percent higher than ads shown in a different category. This was true in 7 of the nine segments.

There were some segments that did not conform to these results, [Dakota] Sullivan said. For instance, the "shoppers" segment showed the highest CTR from ads on career sites and the highest ATR on female-oriented sites. "Travelers" had the highest CTR on food sites and highest ATR on career sites.

"Previous research from others indicated an across-the-board rule of thumb, but we found it varies widely by category," Sullivan said.
It's interesting to note just how effective this could be if adult products and services could be included in the mix. For example, ads for escorts in luxury travel articles, erotica at iVillage, etc. I'm certain this would be a great boon for the advertisers and ad revenues. But we likely won't see that day. (A child could be surfing for that million dollar yacht rental and find :eek: an escort ad!)

In fact, BT is difficult for most of us (IT Team? As if!), but targeting isn't. And we all know context. So we can at least apply this thinking to our marketing and advertisements, even if we cannot create such software. And even if we cannot afford the ad rates at sites with such behaviorally targeted ads, or simply aren't welcome there at all, we can apply this thinking to our ad purchases and design.

This means not only considering at which sites you'll find your target market, but the other advertisers (and creative) are already there.

It makes sense if you consider it this way: "When the ads appear out of context, they help set your message apart. If someone sees a Sugarshots ad next to three car ads and a movie ad, it's going to be unique," [Doug] Schumaker said. "You've got to differentiate your message in any way you can." (Via Kevin Newcomb, February, 2006.)

While it's going to be tough to be the only dildo company or adult membership site at a sex blog, perhaps your ad can look completely different. And maybe, just maybe, you can find alternative sites to welcome your 'porn' advertising dollars. If you do, you'll be the only one there ~ for a little while anyway.

Then, like everything else, the numbers will lower, and lower, 'til they settle. Maybe not quite at half a percent; but they'll be lower.

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More On Pink

In a twist of irony regarding my Thinking Of Pinking? post, Fleshbot has (unaware, I'm sure) posted Pink Not Dead (NWS).

I still stand my ground, but this is a clever gimmick. I'd say more, but it's difficult to know the content when you can't read the text. (Polish, I think?)

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Show & Tell Adult Meme: Q & A For One Edition

What's one question you've been expecting to be asked at your blog which has never been asked?

Why?

Answer it.

What's one question you've wanted to ask your readers, but never have?

Why not?

Ask it.




How this works:

1) You post your replies in your blog. (Link back to/credit to this blog, please.)
2) Post your links in the comments section, or in the Mister Linky Widget.
3) Visit here for other bloggers participating; visit them and leave your comments and link to your participating post.
4) Get your blogging buddies to participate too.

If you don't have a blog, feel free to post your replies as a comment.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Q & A About Paid Postings

My, my, you all have a lot of questions and comments on this!

Q: Are there adult pay per post programs?
A: If I knew any, I'd not tell. (I hate to sound like a magic 8-Ball, but really now, it's rather clear I detest the things and do not want to promote any.)

Q: What about being paid for reviews? Isn't that the same thing, really?
A: Pay per post is completely different from reviewing products or services; reviews are ethical.

Reviews are when a person uses a product or service and provides and honest accounting of its usefulness, worth, function, or some statement saying if it was pleasing or not.

The product or service may have requested the review (in which case, they ought to have provided a sample, review copy, screening, or other way for the reviewer to try the product), or the reviewer may simply have bought or otherwise used the product or service himself. The piece was written and published as a service to readers who value their opinion about such products and services. (This makes them targeted and part of the publication or blog's mission, and as a result, reviews may be used to further the blogger's authority, reputation and traffic.)

The piece is an honest opinion or set of opinions about the product or service and is published as information for interested consumers; it is not a promotional piece for the author, manufacturer, company or service provider ~ though, if positive, it can be used as such.

Reviews are not paid for, in any sense of the word.

While a blogger or reviewer may make money off an affiliate program, such as Amazon affiliate links for book reviews, this is not to be confused with "being paid." These links exist primarily to give the consumer access to the product (and additional product information) as well as provide a nominal (and potential) 'thank you' to compensate for the reviewer's time. (If you've ever done reviews, you'd never question the amount of time put into them.) This is why affiliate links are more accepted at blogs and personal sites, rather than at The New York Times and other large publications where the reviewers are staff or other paid writers.

Again, and repeat with me, "Reviews are never paid for." Even paid reviewing services which promise you 'the big guy publications' (and no, I won't drop their names either) are smarmy in my book. But I am an opinionated whore.

Q: Can I turn a paid post solicitation into money another way?
A: Yes, and I'll be writing that up in an upcoming newsletter.

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Images 101

Several times a week I'm asked how to post images.

Here are two tutorials I recommend:

Posting Image or Photo On Forums n Message Boards
An eBay Tutorial on Images and HTML

(If you really need help with basic HTML, check out the HMTL cheat sheet from Webmonkey.)

There are several free image hosting services, but even if you're using standard blogging software hosted with the company (i.e. at Wordpress or Blogger) you have the means to host your own photos. You can use the blogging software to upload the images even for your sidebar.

For those of you who use Blogger, here's my 'cheat':

1) You'll need to right-click and save the image to your pc

2) Act like you're going to make a new blog post

3) Use the 'compose' window to upload the image from your pc

4) Use the 'compose' window to make a link

5) Click the 'edit html' tab

6) Copy all the code

7) Save the post as a draft (you can title it "image file" or something simple, and I'll explain more in a minute)

8) Paste the copied code into your template sidebar.

By saving this as a draft, you can be sure the image is saved at blogger ~ and, you can use this same draft/post for future needs. (Other images, banners etc for your sidebar.)

I'm guessing there would be similar means in other blogging programs.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

The Definitive Piece On Censorship

Yes, I'm still on my WKRP kick ~ but with such excellence, why not be?

This clip is from the "Clean Up Radio Everywhere" episode, in which the gang discusses media censorship when they face pressure of a "moral" group.

Everything is still true. :sigh:



Funny and sad, but Les sums things up the way many folks (I think) still likely feel:
In a situation like this, I always ask myself, what would my hero Edward R. Murrow think? And I think that Ed would think that this was censorship. Then I think about what my other hero, General George Patton, would think, and I think George would think that radio and television ought to be cleaned up, and if he were alive today, he'd take two armoured cavalry divisions into Hollywood and knock all those liberal pinheads into the Pacific! So as you can see, I'm a very confused man. And when I get confused, I watch TV. Television is never confusing. It's all so simple somehow.

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Paid Per Posting: A Whore By Any Other Name, Still Smells Fishy

Sorry for the relatively crass post title, guaranteed to irritate sex workers (and women) everywhere ~ and the long post ~ but I really feel strongly about this.

Grab a beverage, light a cig if that's your dealio, and settle in ~ this whore's got stamina. (She's long winded & goes the distance.)


Maybe I'm just too old and remember the days of payola all too well, or maybe it's because I'm not only aware of the cultural swing to consumer mistrust but am part of it, but paid postings make me ill.

I seriously thought paid postings would be a short-lived mistake, and I'd never need to write about it. But lately, not only am I seeing the blight on more and more blogs, but it's so bad that blog directories are now asking if you participate in such activities and others are even tossing such bloggers out of their listings. Oh, if only that would be enough to convince folks that paid postings are a bad idea. But apparently it's not.

Paid posting is the devil. Not just annoying, not just a stupid thing to do, but literally a way to sell your integrity, and the soul of your blog and company if not your personal soul.

I'm not talking about when a writer gets paid to write, even 'on assignment,' or posts which are sponsored in the sense that someone pays a fee to have their ad in a post rather than a sidebar or other ad spot. I'm talking about when someone gets paid to writ about a specific product/service/company period. It's not merely 'like' payola, it is payola.
Payola is defined as, a secret or private payment in return for the promotion of a product or service. The term originates from the record industry; but isn't limited to it.
Media which is paid to present products, services, companies, candidates etc. should be marking these funds as advertising revenues and presenting these products to the public as advertisements. If not, if they publish articles, run videos, air interviews etc. for money, they are taking a bribe.

Don't kid yourself, or let another fool you, into believing that being paid to blog (write, publish, or otherwise present) about a product (company, service, performer, candidate or other entity) is ethical or effective. It's not.

In our current climate of mistrust, a thinking reader is often looking for the hook ~ what's this author's intent, what's the blogger have to gain from posting this, what's the reporter's bias? This means that the average visitor to your blog is looking for a reason not to trust you. Paid postings just prove them right, and you terribly, woefully, wrong.

(If you agree with me, you may stop reading now and go get an ice cream cone ~ unless you're morbidly fascinated by this sort of train-wreck. If you don't agree or don't know what pay per post is, then read on my children ~ you might get that ice cream cone yet.)

What happens when a blogger is giving selling their opinions directly on products ~ without even trying them?!

Think I'm exaggerating? Think again, kids. Look at this from SponsoredReviews.com FAQ for advertisers:
How It Works

There are two ways to participate:

1. You can search for and purchase reviews directly by browsing through our database of active bloggers. Once you purchase a review and provide some details about the review you want done, we notify the bloggers. The blogger would then accept or decline your review request. Once accepted the blogger has 7 days to write the review, post it on their blog, and submit the URL into our system for you to see.

2. You can also post an opportunity so that bloggers can search and find you directly. An opportunity is similar to posting a job opening. Bloggers will search for relevant advertisers in order to find work. Posting an opportunity will increase the number of reviews you can get completed.
And this is from their FAQ for bloggers:
How it Works

There are two ways to participate:

1. You can create a profile for your blog(s) in order to attract advertisers. Advertisers will purchase reviews from you, which you have the option to accept or decline.

2. You can also search for advertisers directly, and bid on jobs. Our unique bidding system allows you to negotiate your rates with advertisers in order to maximize your earnings.

Once you have accepted a review opportunity, you have 3 days to complete your assignment. Upon posting the review on your blog, you must enter the URL of the post into our system.
Not a single mention of product being delivered to a blogger ~ in fact, not a single mention of the products actually being used! Now what the hell is that about?! That's not a review, that's an infomercial (at best), a paid endorsement by someone who has never tried it (at worst) or just a plain old advertisement.

In fact, it seems that actually trying the product is discouraged. Here's a quote from PayPerPost.com's blogger FAQ:
Q: How much time do I have to write my post?

A: Once you have selected Take this Opportunity, you have 6 hours to complete the requirements as listed in the Opportunity and submit the post via PayPerPost. It is best to begin research and work on the post as soon as you have decided to accept the Opportunity.
Are we to believe that within 6 hours one has been sent or purchased the item, used it, and written a review?

A review means that one has tried the product or service and is giving their honest, unvarnished thoughts. Clearly, these are not reviews.

How on earth is paid posting not considered payola by everyone?

As a blogger, you have an ethical responsibility to differentiate advertisements from your own content (i.e. your comments, opinions, recommendations, interviews, articles etc.). Even if you do not consider yourself to be part of The Media, nor wish to be, you have this responsibility. Think of it this way; when you ask your friend what movie you should see this weekend and he tells you, "Even Almighty," you trust him, right? But what if he was paid to say that? And he never told you?

Paid per post is just that.

(And how would you feel about Universal Films for paying your buddy to tell you that?)

I know, I know, there are some sites/programs which make it clear that the blog post is a paid post via buttons, banners and links. This does alleviate the matter of the hidden agenda from the reader ~ however, this leads to a whole other set of problems which prove pay per post is just bad business.

Number one, the fundamental flaw with admitting that you get paid per post is that your entire blog and everything you say is now suspect. It's not just me saying that. Be honest with yourself; if you read in any of my posts that I was paid to write them, wouldn't they naturally be suspect? Wouldn't I naturally be suspect?

You know what kills me? When bloggers fill their headers and their sidebars with buttons which read, "Hire Me! A Post On This Blog Is $15" (or $30 or whatever price they put on their integrity). Authority lost in the name of transparency, that's what this is. That button screams, "Hey! Me, my blog, and I have no integrity! Buy us!" What authority can you possibly have or earn when you announce that you and your blog are for sale?

And they call me a whore. :snort:

While these hideous announcements are at least honest, what does this do for the advertiser? Do you trust or like people who bribe people? Those companies, politicians, entertainers, etc. who use pay for posts are doing just that.

In our current climate of distrust of corporations and marketing in general, people are all-too-ready to point fingers at those who would be so unethical. And it won't be just the blogger who suffers with a poor reputation, but the advertiser as well.

Besides, it's a waste of ad dollars. These blatant bribes are not going to be effective.

Knowing that a blogger is paid for their posts severely limits the blog's appeal. Would a paid review, a blog post be meaningful to you? Likely not. Who is going to bookmark or regularly visit this blog? Would you read a blog or subscribe to an RSS feed in which 70% (or more) of its content was ads? Probably not.

Of the few that do visit, either out of friendship with the blogger or those who just stumbled in for the first time from from a search engine query, are these visitors part of the advertiser's target market? For that matter, how can a blog which is 70% paid postings have a target audience? So even if these were credible reviews and ads at credible blogs how could these ads even be worthwhile to the advertisers?

It's a lose-lose scenario.

Amazingly, quite a number of these bloggers in pay per post programs (and there are a growing number of these), have high rankings, linking authority at Technorati and other signs of 'greatness.'

How do they do it? Well, I'm no member of these programs, but it's pretty clear that they are organized, armed with blogger tools, and know just enough to be dangerous ~ for the short term anyway. For no matter how many people you get (trick into) visiting these blogs, the bottom line is no one is trusting them enough to believe what they say. Translation: No one is going to rush out and buy/consume the products and services which are presented.

One of the tools these programs offer is the "Get Paid To Review My Post" buttons. These are designed to get others hooked. Not just other bloggers and advertisers, but blog readers looking to make a few bucks.

I've heard the intention of the "review me" buttons and links are to provide the check & balance of the system. If a blogger consistently gets poor reviews, then they'll be ranked less or otherwise deemed less worthy to advertisers. This is to ensure the quality. (Quality I can only guess is determined by some rather meaningless criteria, for by now credibility is non-existent.) Aside from the obvious potential of misuse by other jealous bloggers, the friends of bloggers and the advertisers themselves (who can keep a blogger's fees as humble as their attitudes), the whole system is rife with misuse by the program managers themselves.

As noted before, I've been at sites where the owners told columnists to download the Alexa toolbar so that our visits would help increase the site's ranking. So it's not a big leap to imagine that when advertisers stop buying posts these programs will direct members to 'give folks a break' and give nice reviews so that they can gain and retain advertisers. A plea to 'help the program so you can continue to be paid' is a strong motivator for many, and since the average (admittedly not generated with a large sample) I saw for paid post reviews was $7.50 per review, that could add up rather quickly. Those reviewing members are going to respond.

Of course, it's just as likely that the programs will actually direct it's members posting negative or neutral 'reviews' to let up a bit to help the site gain and retain advertisers. Ditto on running about and clicking the links to advertisers to inflate numbers. Since these bloggers are in it for the money, not the authority, not the love of what they blog about, they are going to submit to these requests.

The whole thing stinks like rotten fish sitting in the sunshine. Don't let pay per post folks blow sunshine up your skirt with their talk of revenues and other matters which cloud the issue, which is one of ethics.

Decent bloggers care about their authority. Decent companies care about their image. And paid postings destroy both.

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Monday's Reading List

Management Professor Notes II hosts the Carnival of the Capitalists, and these are my two favorite posts:

The Right Price
Is Traditional Publicity Dead?

Not part of the carnival, but definitely worth reading, is Blue Gal's post on blogging. (Note how some of her ideas contrast those of Bacchus.)

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

True OR False: Ads Don't Work On The Internet

Continuing my thoughts on marketing in a digital world...

To understand the situation, one needs to begin with a look backwards at the brief evolution of the Net in terms of Internet marketing.

Remember when banner ads were all the rage? Touted at the way to promote and advertise, they were compared to billboards, ads and other branding methods. At first, the click-thru rates were high, and investments in the standard 60 x 468 were considered de riguer for any decent webmaster.

When those lost their punch, one needed flashing and/or animated gifs. 'Movement' was deemed the best way to engage surfers. When those links pages became a swirling sea of flashing and animated banners, we quickly moved to skyscraper ads and ads placed within content rather than relegated to links pages. Their very size and prominence indicated power and deep pockets, their performance numbers were high ~ but quickly, surfers lost their interest in these too.

We were then told to forget about banners and branding and directed to buy keywords and start affiliate programs. Without really saying so, at least not directly admitting 'why' this was so, we were told banners didn't work. Pay per click and pay for performance models were better than spots based on time limits or impressions.

Next it was SEO. Text links (or 'hard links'), we were told, were far better because this was more powerful in feeding search engines. We were also told that surfers wanted or at least reacted to text links.

Along the way we've been told and coached that low click-thru rates are the norm. To make the most of the numbers game, to make that low percent a high number of clicks, we now are told to covet social networking linkage. No matter what the context, get linked there ~ it's where the cool kids are! So what if the rate is low, the percent of clicks nominal and conversions an even smaller percentage, we should settle for them because that's just the way it is.

But that's not 'just the way it is.' Or at least few are examining why it is that way.

When you look at the past, patters emerge. All these web promotions began with great results and then were dumped in favor of the next new thing. This isn't so surprising. Early adopters have better (the best) success rates. Innovators usually do. But their are other assumptions being made here which should be looked at.

The belief that once the numbers are low, the whole thing should be scrapped is a bit foolish. It's like throwing the baby out with the bath water, for Pete's sake. I'm not saying we should settle for low numbers and poor performances, but while we need to keep our companies and marketing campaigns out of the red, we cannot view things as simplistically as black or white. There are shades of grey (such as branding) and perhaps more importantly, one should look at why these campaigns failed.

There are many possible reasons for this: poorly created ads, poorly targeted ads, poor products/companies, companies with such large PR problems that ads are rendered useless, companies with such big profiles (saturation points) that ads are not relevant (at least in terms of triggering a click response), are just a few.

A popular assumption is that Internet advertising has failed (or has very low performance numbers) because Internet users bore easily and tire quickly of the ads. There's some merit to this, but I don't just think it's short attention spans.

Another popular assumption is that no one has either found the right way to implement ads (from a mechanism or technological point of view) or discovered a way to appeal to Internet users, as if we are some different species of human. To some extent Internet users are different than non-Internet users. But only in the same ways that TV viewers differ from radio folks, book readers differ from movie goers ~ as a target market. (And as you know, many target markets overlap ~ the key is in knowing the essentials of your business.) We are not a whole other species.

The bottom line is that most of us, Internet users or not, are tired and unresponsive to ads in general.

With cultural shifts towards skepticism and unethical business practices only adding to this mindset, this new medium and the citizens which virtually live in it aren't going to fall for the same old tricks. It's not just the novelty of 'new' which they/we tire of, it's the whole advertising system.

People today are bombarded by ads; and we are, by and large, OK with that. Call us practical, call us jaded, we understand the economics of companies selling things. We don't mind it. We don't mind it so much we tune it out most of the time.

The few things we do remember about ads is how they talk down to us, how they think we are incapable of thinking and researching for ourselves, and perhaps most of all, how companies, despite having copious amounts of information about us, do not know us at all.

We aren't so much offended by advertising as we are by how companies talk to us and about us.

Where the proverbial shit hits the fan with regards to the Internet is not that we are a new species, but that we are more vocal. This comes from a combination of factors. One, our youth, which generally brings with it more of an outspoken nature. Two, the fact that (duh) this new medium doesn't just 'allow' for interaction but is built upon it. So Internet users will speak out and loudly about idiot campaigns ~ and the companies which use them.

This is good news.

A smart marketer will spend time listening to what people are saying, especially to those groups they feel best represent their customers and potential customers, and put that information into use.

Does that mean ads don't work? No... Not entirely.

The real changes here are the new medium which presents new challenges in presentation and monetization, and the cultural shift to skepticism which is admittedly both affected by the Internet ~ as well as using the Internet to further drive and voice the shift. The good news is that we can not only use the Internet to see what works, what doesn't, and what's going on in our target market, but that we can find this all out rather quickly. If we are willing to listen and collect information, examine what we see and hear, and put it into use.

Subscribe to The Marketing Whore Newsletter and you'll get my ideas on ads and marketing campaigns that do work.

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Living Off The Scraps In The Teeth Of Others

The symbiotic relationship between selling something to someone and making money off of that transaction is written-off as bad. The sales person profits from something 'done to' the customer, affiliates are parasites which feed off the wide toothy grins of unsuspecting blog readers, and marketers are the tapeworms feeding off the insides of rich corporate fat-cats.

But I'd like today's word to remind you that this is not necessarily so:
Symbiotic: An interrelationship between two different organisms in which the effects of that relationship are expressed as being harmful or beneficial; intimate associations in which organisms of more than one species live together.

The association may be beneficial to both (mutualism), beneficial to one with no effect on the other (commensalism) or beneficial to one with harmful effects on the other (parasitism).
It's up to you, as a buyer and as a seller, to decide what sort of symbiotic relationship you'll have.

The Whore works for mutualism.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

11 Ways You'll Know You're Getting Somewhere

Aside from watching the number of your site visitors climb higher, these are a few of the ways you can mark your blog's success and your own authority.

(Unnumbered because this isn't necessarily an 'in order' thing.)

* Folks linking to your for your content. Not just social bookmarks, but other bloggers writing about you and/or your posts. (Not all will be positive, but do take advantage of these opportunities and participate in the conversations!)

* Folks asking for link swaps. I'm referring to real people asking you, not spam or form letters, and to real blogs or sites, not directories. (Not to beat a dead horse, but please do evaluate them all.)

* Being nominated for awards. (Winning awards!)

* Being asked questions, for advice, or otherwise mentoring another.

* Companies asking about your ad rates. (Note: As a general rule, I recommend bloggers do not worry about having an advertising program or making a "click here for my advertising rates" to a advertising FAQ or email contact until and unless they've been asked directly by a potential advertiser or two.)

* Authors and companies asking for reviews. I'm speaking of real reviews here, where they send you the product and you use it and honestly review it.

* Quotes of your reviews used in other places to promote the product.

* Inquires or solicitations for paid posts or sponsored posts. (More, much more, on this later.)

* Being published at other sites or in other publications.

* Requests for you to preview products prior to release. (Your name and site printed on book jackets and product packaging!)

* Being interviewed or quoted in other publications or media.

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Link Swaps Are Doorways

I've got a few basics on link swaps at Whoring Your Site With Links (and a bit more in Gently Scratching Your Niche), but a number of readers have asked for more information on them. So here we go...

Link swaps or exchanges (where Site A links to Site B, then Site B links back to Site A) have been around a long time. (Like those swinging doors, there are two ways for people to pass through.)

They are standard practice, but this does not mean you should be route about handling them.

Do not accept, nor feel pressured into accepting, each request. Remember, each link is a doorway. Not only are you inviting people to leave, and therefore want to limit the number of exits, but each link is rather like an endorsement. The dual nature of these doorways allows for the perfect means to evaluate them. When you receive a request, do visit the site and evaluate if it's worthy of sending your visitors to.
Evaluate where you're sending folks:

Does the site have good, original content (writing, products, services, photos etc.)?

Is it something you think your visitors or members would be interested in seeing?

Do they have enough content to indicate they'll be around and active in the future?

Is the site broken, links which do not work, missing graphics or have other signs of neglect or problems?

All of these things will reflect on you, for offering the doorway. (For more on this, also read here.)

The other side of the link swap is your point of view on traffic.

From your own point of view, does it look like their site will have readers which will find your site interesting?

Also, do you like where they would be linking to you? Some sites and even blogs have separate areas, even pages, for links. If you feel that your link would be buried, or otherwise virtually unseen in some hidden area, only accept the request on your terms ~ with a better placement of the link to your site.
The reason I mention this first is so that you understand how your link request will be viewed: Is your site worthy of them sending their readers to, and would your link be beneficial to them?

So no matter how wonderfully worded your link swap request is, you may be rejected. If you are lucky, they will take the time to let you know why your site isn't making the grade. Use this information to your advantage in two ways: 1) It's a free review of sorts, so perhaps there are changes you ought to make, and 2) if so, contact them again after you've made the changes.

I know there are going to be some of you who dislike link swaps, because you'll have read/heard that a certain number of out-bound links are bad for search engine ranking, or page rank (or whatever.) It certainly is one school of thought. As are only swapping with sites with specific page ranks (or higher), and other guidelines. These philosophies are other reasons your link swap request may be rejected, and they may be unknown to you at the time you make your request. All you can do is respect their decision and move along. (However, if they disclose their reasoning &/or guidelines, do as above.)

OK, so now you know how link swaps are evaluated and you're ready to prepare for, head-off, and deal with rejection. Now it's time to move onto how to ask for them.

Here are the steps:

1) Put as much effort into exploring a site as you would in evaluating it if they had requested the link swap themselves. Don't see one post and send your request, but rather look around and see as much of the site as you can. If you are still of the opinion that you'd like to create that swinging doorway, then proceed.

2) Look on their site for rules on link swaps or exchanges, or other policies which may tell you their guidelines and how to request an exchange. If you do qualify, then proceed. And if they have a specific method for requesting a swap, then use it.

3) If you'll need to send an email request, here's what to keep in mind.
A) You need not feel smarmy, gross or inappropriate requesting a link swap. It's part of business, and we all know that. If you've done your homework (evaluation) you're offering something of value for something of value. So don't apologize for such a request, you are flattering them. (Conversely, don't act so cocky either. You aren't doing them a favor, but simply arranging a win-win.)

B) Don't use a generic form letter to request a swap. It's not personal and it doesn't show the blogger or webmaster that you have found their site worthy of such a request. Don't even use a standard file you cut and paste from to make your request. I mean it! The time you think you save with cut & paste is really effort lost when you make a formulaic request, and, in this doorway metaphor, have a doorway closed to you. (Even worse, when you blunder and mistakenly paste some other webmaster's name or information in it!) Why be so boring, so lazy, when you should be excited to find a cool site you want to share with your readers? Tell them why you want to swap ~ even gush about their site, if that's your personality. Whatever your tone or personality, write each email individually. You'll be glad you did.

C) Don't tell them that link swaps are vital, that this helps their search engine ranking or page rank or whatever. Such things are either insulting (as if they didn't know!) or boring (a bunch of gibberish to those who don't know). And to those of us who get many requests a day, they read like the same old crap and we gather your site is full of it too. (I'll admit, those emails very rarely get read all the way through before I hit delete; so it would take a miracle for me to even visit their site to evaluate it.)

D) Do clearly provide your information (URL, site title and where you'd place their link etc.). I know this is noted here, but based on the number of requests I receive in which this info is missing, I guess it bears repeating.

E) Put something simple and direct in the subject line so they know what the email is. I typically create my subject line last, as my enthusiasm makes me want to talk (write the email) right away *wink* Then I can be more practical when writing the subject line. If you know the contact's name, use it. Examples: Link Swap With The Whore, I'd Like To Exchange Links With Your Marketing Whore Blog, Link Swap For Gracie, etc.
One last thing... Don't forget to check your links periodically.

Ask yourself: Is this site still worthy of you inviting your guests to leave your site for? Act accordingly.

Sometimes folks nail their side of the door shut or put so much stuff in the front of it that no one can realistically pass through to your side. Sites may have deleted links, moved them to a different area or page (which you can easily view as a break in agreement if this move is detrimental to you) and sites may be down all together. (If the latter, please check several times over a few days, with a clear cache, just to be sure that you didn't stumble in during a server hissy fit.)

Should you find your link swap partner has shut the doorway to your site, I recommend you send an email about it. You need not be rude or defensive as mistakes do happen. Just inquire as to why your link seems to be missing. Most of the time you get a reply saying "Oops!" and a correction. If that's not the case, you can safely delete your reciprocating link.

Conversely, if you find yourself wishing to sever a partnership, it's best if you contact them to let them know. Be polite and remind yourself that, as nasty as this feels, it is better they hear it from you (and the reasons why) than to discover that you deleted them. (And you'll avoid building a negative reputation as a webmaster or blogger who doesn't keep promises.)

Now go forth, and open some doors.

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Today's Stray Business Thought

If I had a bar, I'd name the restrooms Teats and Taints.

It's not perfectly clear as 'taint' can swing both ways, but alongside 'teats' I think it's self-explanatory. And I love it so it's perfect to me.

If you don't know what 'taints' are, then this also serves as your vocabulary word of the day. Go look it up. *wink*

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Women, Men And The Porn Industry

Remember that event I told you about, the Women and the Porn Industry event in Chicago?

Well, now you can read a review of the documentary, including a clip, and find out about the discussion afterwards.

(In case you're wondering, all these links are NWS!)

One of my favorite quotes from that discussion is from Jack Hafferkamp, of Libido films:
I think that part of the problem is that most porn is really kind of stupid, sexist, and demeaning. I mean, we know that. So is the solution to shut it down or do better stuff? I think clearly the answer is to do better stuff. Where do American males get their sex education? It's there, so why not make it material that actually provides useful information? It seems to me to be the way to go rather than say don't do it at all.
Easy to see why I'm such a fan, huh? *wink*

One of the most surprising things from this discussion was when one of the male participants spoke:
I'm a heterosexual man and what I want is definitely what you're doing. I saw "Trial Run" and it was the first time I'd actually seen a man in a pornographic movie that didn't scare the shit out of me. (laughs) The guy-his name escapes me-he's having sex, and it's sexy, and he looks normal and human shaped and he's...pudgy. Wow, it's so comforting and the sex was hot. I'm also a librarian and the most frequently stolen book at the library where I worked was "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" by Jenna Jameson, which was really strange. How do you as filmmakers educate a younger generation about sex without giving them strange ideas?
I'm rather surprised men at this gathering spoke at all, really; let alone be so honest. (What man could both be brave enough to speak at a female centric event ~ and keep his wits about himself, at least enough to speak? lol)

I really wish I could have been there...

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Thinking Of Pinking?

In case you've been thinking of just splashing pink about your product or website to appeal to women, take a look at how it's been done historically.

Ask yourself if those ideas were good ones.

Then ask yourself if that's how you want to be viewed. *wink*

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Show & Tell Adult Meme: Whiner Wednesday Edition

Show us one post of which you are most proud/most pleased, but which received no comments.

Tell us what you expected to hear/read.

Show us one blog you are jealous of or wish to emulate.

Tell us why.




How this works:

1) You post your replies in your blog. (Link back to/credit to this blog, please.)
2) Post your links in the comments section, or in the Mister Linky Widget.
3) Visit here for other bloggers participating; visit them and leave your comments and link to your participating post.
4) Get your blogging buddies to participate too.

If you don't have a blog, feel free to post your replies as a comment.

Note: Using Mister Linky is free (and has inexpensive upgrades for other features) and is a super easy way to include the posts of others at your blog.

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No, Virginia, There Aren't Any Experts In A Digital World

In response to an anonymous post complaining about my affiliate program post, I wrote:
Trying to find the balance here, the way to provide incentives to bloggers and webmasters as one courts consumers, is hardly been established. Which is why I say, with all due respect, there really are no Internet experts in this sense. It's too new.
And I mean that.

Trying to find the balance between making money and providing incentives has always been a toughie. Companies complain it eats profits; salesmen (commissioned and salaried) complain they don't get paid what they are worth. Why would it be different for affiliates?

Trying to find the balance between making money and promoting has always been tricky. Complaints about ad and direct marketing campaigns ~ everything from high cost and low response rates ~ are centuries old. Why would promoting on the Net be exempt?

Do you really think this would change just because it's a digital world? Not when money/profits are still the goal and humans are still part of the equation.

To me, this is all rather good news; these problems are 'old news' and 'old hat.' So even if this new medium ~ the Internet ~ is still an infant (and growing at an alarming rate), we should be able to wrap our arms and minds around it all.

If we concentrate on what we do know, such as human behavior, human needs, and standard ethical marketing practices ~ or at least the theories behind them ~ we should be able to bring up baby and our profits.

We need not be Internet experts, but marketing experts, people experts, sales people, etc.

By my own declaration 'none of us may really be Internet experts,' therefore I myself cannot be an Internet Expert. With this admission I grant that you may opt to ignore all I have to say. But as a member of the world's oldest profession I'm rather confident in my ability to work here, on the Internet, too. People are people. If you think I may have something to say, stick around. The next few days are looking prolific.

And subscribe to the newsletter ~ another issue leaves this week.

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Brief Words On Memes

Memes can be an excellent way to participate in the blogosphere. You meet new bloggers, and generate traffic and links. However, here are six points to consider before you decide to participate.

1 Participation in memes requires linking to others. Not just in your original post, but many times they require you to update with links back to all who participate. Read and follow the rules and decide if it's something you can commit to and keep up with.

2 Memes are (often smaller &/or temporary) communities, which means you'll also need to invest some time in reading the posts of others. Best results are seen when you post comments etc. The price you pay for traffic is the activity you put into them.

3 Memes can be fun ~ and a great way to inspire postings when your own blog muse has left or taken a nap. However, a blog which consists of only memes isn't a very fun blog to read. Even blogs with their own unique content may find regulars unhappy with such content. It's best to consider meme participation as a garnish or side dish, not the main course of your blog. (A good rule of thumb would be no more than 20% of your posts be meme posts.)

4 Not all memes are welcoming to adult (or even risqué) bloggers. While some of them might be fun for you to participate in, and your readers might even enjoy your responses/participation, if the regulars or meme host/owner dislikes your participation, you'll end up with more ill-will than positive results.

5 Because you'll be sharing your traffic, look over the other posts and participants. Are they worthy of sending your readers too?

6 Memes, like most anything else, require some time and nurturing. New memes can take time to build traffic (and a good reputation). Ditto on your participation. The converse is also true: Sometimes, a new meme or new 'player' will be all the buzz and then, just as quickly, become yesterday's news. So be prepared for fluctuations (and if it's neither fun nor a traffic boost, reconsider the meme's advantages).

Have thoughts and recommendations for memes? Please, post them as comments!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Listen To This, Big Guy, And Save

Herb Tarlek of WKRP on Sales:



Herb's sales copy:
Big Snake Sale!
Sssssave! Sssssave! Sssssave!
Pick and choossssse! Mix and match, everything'sssss marked down!
Thessssse marvelous petsssss are quiet and refined.
Rid your house of rodentsssss and unwanted baby chicks, ssssstartle your friendsssss today!
Which got a few of us off our own "S's" and thinking... Why not have an ad sale and help a few of our friends with stuff stuck in their backrooms? (We bet that even the adult industry has a few snakes which must be moved. *wink*)

So here's our SSSuper SSSmut SSSpecial.

Get the Standard (150x200, 16K + 300 char) Blogads at the three following sites:

SSSilent Porn Star
SSSlip of a Girl
And SSSex-Kitten.Net

All three blogs, one month ~ at half price! Just $214.50

All three blogs, one week ~ at half price! Just $65

(In case you're too freaked-out by the offer to focus on the math, a week at all three sites would normally cost you $130; and a month is regularly $429.)

Also at Sex-Kitten.Net only, buy a Hi-Rise ad (150x600, 35K + 300 char) for one week (normally $200), now just the price of a one week standard ad.

(That math means you pay only $100 for the week!)

These are Limited Time Offers ~ We Aren't Kidding! (And we know this offer isn't a turkey; it won't hit the ground like sacks of wet cement either! *wink*)

Here's how to do it:

1) Make your ad payment via PayPal to Pay (at) equilibri-yum (dot) com.

2) Email me at TheWhore (at) MarketingWhore (dot) Net with the following ad information:

Ad Headline: Max. 32 chars. No html allowed
Ad Text: Max. 300 published chars. Max. 3 empty lines. Simple HTML (a, b, i, u) allowed. No more than 18 continuous visible characters please!
URL: Your website, product etc.
Standard Ad Image: 150 X 200 pixels and 16KB jpg/gif
OR
Hi-Rise Ad Image: 150 X 600 pixels and 35KB jpg/gif

Yes, you can reserve future dates ~ with your payment only. Please include your requested ad start date with your other ad information.

Fine Print: Since this is an ad special, you won't be using the Blogads interface ~ we will be placing the ads for you, so it's really important that you email with your information as soon as you make your payment.

These offers end when we say they do. The only guarantee you have that your ad(s) will run is once you've made your payment. So reserve your spots now!

-- OOps! Totally forgot to thank Slip for the clip, from her review of the WKRP Season One DVD.

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Empower Women Now Offers

Empower Women Now has quite a bit of information (as well as honestly stated pitches for their publications etc.), so if you are male or we adult bloggers cannot participate in the networking, link swaps etc., the site is still worth some time to visit and read. Here are a few noteworthy tidbits:

Empowered Women Now has made a deal with PRWeb for a free release distribution valued at $200.

They currently have a contest with prizes. (Currently their contest entry method is a simple link to them ~ so I guess this means I might be entered. *wink*)

I found all of this out via one trip to this one post of theirs: LinkBait Experiment: Calling all women entrepreneurs and mom bloggers. I would have just posted that as a quick link, but honestly, I was really confused at first with what they were asking folks to do with their "linkbait request" and mentions of a contest. (Sure, all the info was in the post, or linked too, but it wasn't as clear as I would have liked.)

Again, I have no idea how welcoming Empower Women Now (officially, or member-wise) will be to 'our lot.' So proceed with caution when posting comments and networking.

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What's A Blog?

Here's the complete list of those who participated in the metaphor project ~ which ones make the most sense to you?
See the 10 winners here.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Things To Know: Views & News

Flickr responds and flickr explains moderated settings and boobies are updates to the ongoing saga of flickr "considered harmful" posts by Violet Blue. (It's nearly a damn soap opera, so I may have missed a few posts ~ but she's linked updates and whatnot, so you can try to keep up and follow along at her blog.)

Driving Traffic to a Blog by Blogsbywomen.org (which does allow adult/sex blogs in its directory, so check 'em out if you're a woman with a blog) is worth reading. As a side dish, see their post on Womens Interest in Porn.

The English Courtesan has posted a bit of info on Taking Payment As A Courtesan Or Escort. Even if you're not an escort (nor based in the UK), this is worth a read as she discusses things like privacy along with her thoughts on specific payment processor options.

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Leaders & Leadership Behavior

Wayne Hurlbert's Blog Business World hosts this week's edition of Carnival of the Capitalists.

Having hosted before, I have a new appreciation for what Hurlbert's work load was like. I know his task was neither simple nor easy, and he's selected some really fine offerings. As usual, I suggest you go there and read, read, Read.

***

My favorite post from this week's carnival is Non - Linear Leadership Thinking vs. Behavior, by Charles H. Green. Hurlbert describes this post as "how it seems the best leaders are sages, able to hold two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time, believe both, and reconcile them." (Which is far more succinct than I could ever hope to be, so I must use his phrasing.)

What's excellent about this post, what's so exciting, is that Green describes what every good salesman knows ~ and I'm speaking of real salesmen in the legendary ways of old, when the profession was deemed noble.

Once upon a time every good salesman knew that if you keep the customer's needs and objections in mind and at the same time know your products well enough you can find the solution to the customer's problems via a sale.

'Tis the same with my philosophy of marketing. You know you, your product or service can't be everything to everybody ~ but you know and believe that you, your product or service can be just the thing your customer is looking for. Help him to see how, solve his problems ~ and make a sale too. It's holistic, a symbiotic win for all. This is what Green is talking about in his discussion of leadership.

Since Green's left the salesmen and marketers out of it, perhaps many more will listen. *wink*

***

Which brings us back to Hurlbert (and other fine hosts of CoTC): They create lists of the best postings, points and pontifications for the rest of us to read. Hopefully, they are read and respected in return. Another win-win.

Next week's Carnival of the Capitalists will be hosted by Management Professor Notes II ~ if you want to enter, send the following information to cotcmail~at~gmail~dot~com:

Blog Name
Blog URL
Entry/Post Title
Entry/Post URL
Description of Post
Author Name

Also, consider hosting the carnival if you have a relevant blog.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Affiliate Leads

SLA (Sensual Liberation Army) has a guide to adult affiliate programs for bloggers and webmasters. As they say:
Deciding which affiliates are for you isn't always easy. Everybody has a different niche, a different audience. You also have to decide what your own aesthetic is, and decide what you can sell in good conscience. Some of our favorite sites make us no money at all. We can't tell you what your aesthetic is, but we can tell you what generally sells well for us.
So you'll need to decide what works for you, but if you've been looking for some ideas, it's a good start.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Metaphor Project

Mike at Spooky Action has put some thought into what his blog is and he's decided it is Dexter's Memetic Lab because he experiments with memes. Don't let the word 'meme' fool you. Memes are conversations and ideas which travel about the Net (blog carnivals included). So his experiments are not as silly as you might think.

While Mike's thoughts (and actions) are interesting, what really make me want to bring this to your attention was how Mike got around to describing or defining his blog.

It began with a post at Liz's Successful Blog, titled The Metaphor Project: What's Your Blogging Metaphor?. In that post, Liz challenged bloggers to a write a post to explain what blogging is ~ using a metaphor as a teaching tool.

The replies were interesting (here's a second set of them) and I encourage you to read them all as well as think about a metaphor of your own. But what really struck me was that in all the metaphors the focus was on what the blogger was doing at their blog. Not surprisingly, because that was the question, right? But something was missing.

If I stick with the metaphor that blogs in general are conversations, or if I use Mike's metaphor that his blog is Dexter's Memetic Lab, or any metaphor likely (or unlikely) used, these all beg the question, "So what?"

So what if I have a great idea, a wonderful experiment, or if the blog is throwing rocks at thousands of windows and trying to wake the sleeping beauty inside? None of it matters if there isn't another to converse, an audience, or if a rock doesn't hit the window.

While blogging, especially those blogs which automatically ping Technorati or are built into communities, have some ability to be found, what you say/do there is rather meaningless if no one is there to read/participate. Like the old tree which falls in the forest, you have to ask yourself, "Do I make a sound if there's no one there to hear it?"

This is why marketing matters. Your blog has to be found (SEO, link swaps, an email with the URL to your mother, whatever) in order for what you do there to matter. Your odds of participation, of being meaningful or at least mattering to someone, increase when you are where the people are.

Which brings us back to Mike and his experiments with memes.

Many memes may be silly. And certainly not all memes are fitting for every blog. But if you view memes as active conversations then participating (in the right ones) is one way to make sure that not only are you heard in the forest, but that someone actually yells, "Timber!"

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Because They Agree With Me

Experts agree with me about Web Poo Point Doh. Well, they don't use my terminology, but Marc Andreesen says 'Web 2.0' is an Empty Buzzword. (I'm posting to Cadenhead rather than the source because I just like Cadenhead.)

Adult Blog Marketing has been updated, and I point it out as he's had darn near identical experiences to mine with both PenisBot and Technorati ~ though I was underwhelmed with Yahoo 360 due to the amount of time one must put in to mix & mingle (it's not where or how I want to spend my time). Definitely worth reading so you can weed out the time wasters.

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Bacchus on Blogging

While working on Bacchus, Gracie's Been Sleeping In Your Blog (NWS), I rediscovered this excellent bit by Bacchus, Blogging For A Living And The Global Microbrand. You should all go read it.

Go.

Now.

I'll wait.

In that piece he links to a recent interview at Sunni's Salon, from which this bit is taken:
Sunni: So, tell me about the money. Is it really a world of easy, instant cash? I rather suspect not ... [laughs]

Bacchus: It's true that there can be a lot of money in adult web sites, but because anybody with a computer can compete for it, there's an astonishing amount of competition, too. There's lots of money to be made, but it doesn't come without sustained, consistent effort, just like any other business. Persistence over time is a huge factor, because links and search engine mojo take forever to establish in commercial quantities. Most people who try this business give up before they ever have a chance to succeed.

Sunni: I take it you'd disagree with my current position of not trying to make money from my blog. But surely you aren't wanting every corner of the web to be filled with Google ads and obnoxious banners, are you?

Bacchus: Better to say "I don't understand" than that I disagree. Being a lazy man, I like making money with my brain. And I've long felt that the best measure of a thing's worth is what someone will pay for it. "Money is the sincerest form of flattery" and all that. I don't think profits are bad, and thus I don't think any enterprise is tainted by the hope of making money with it.
You should (at least) continue reading from here.

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Dude, What's Up With Joyscape?

Like virtually everyone who has a link to Joyscape on their blog or website, I've been getting lots of hits from those who are wondering why the site seems to be gone. Quite a few bloggers emailed me to say so, and to ask if I knew what was up with their being down. (Now, I don't know anyone at/with Joyscape, but I'm flattered y'all think I know absolutely everyone everywhere. *wink*)

In reality, the site is not gone. Don't get me wrong, it's got some issues as most of the pages are "connection refused" but you can still search images and movies, as media.joyscape.com is still functioning. (Just not a damn bit of help for the blogs and bloggers.)

So, searchers, now you know. Well, you now know all that I know anyway.

If you want a giggle, check out a non-adult blogger's response to her traffic from those searching for info on Joyscape's problems: Welcome Joyscape Surfers. Now go home. (And while you're there, check out her blog, Blue Gal, as she's actually quite interesting to read.)

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nothing Up My Sleeve

In Marketing gimmicks: Bending spoons and magic, Wayne Hurlbert writes:
Good marketers understand their products and services and their potential customers and clients. Just as the magician applies the laws of science to the various tricks, the savvy marketing person considers the needs and desires of the marketplace. Sometimes, that market requires the talents of the illusionist. Instead of the standard marketing techniques, a few gimmicks can be employed successfully.
At first I bristled. Yes, good marketers understand their product and their target market. But gimmicks? This is exactly the sort of negative stuff that makes the world mistrust and hate marketers. Slight of hand is not something I want associated with my work.

His specific suggestions are less upsetting though. And he does provide a warning:
Just as some people can see things up the magician's sleeve, so too can they see through a badly run marketing campaign. Care must be taken to perfect the art of spoon bending, and so too with gimmick marketing.
As Wayne says, "A successful gimmick marketing campaign can go viral in an instant, however. Be certain to be prepared for the global sales that result." Ditto that when it goes terribly, horribly, hideously wrong.

It is from those creative suggestions and his warnings that I do trust that what Wayne is really in favor of is a more creative approach to getting the attention of potential consumers, clients and fans. I do just wish he would avoid comparing marketing with the less honest (or cheesy) aspects of magic.

I really, perhaps naively, believe 'the wow factor' should come from the product/service itself and that the marketer's job is to find ways for those who would benefit from the product/service ~ even say "Wow!" about it ~ to know about it. That's the real marketing magic.

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Silence Can Be Golden

As one who recommends regular blogging to their clients who use blogs, I feel I ought to make a comment regarding my own irregular blogging. It's not really a case of "do as I say, not as I do" *wink* I do have my (legitimate) reasons for pauses and silences here. And this isn't just a simple post in which I rationalize my silences to you (or even myself). I think this is actually something you should know about. (No, I'm not going to brag or whore; but I am going to share a philosophy I hope you'll consider.)

No matter how much I'd like to be here, babblin' on and on, my first priority is my own business (i.e. my own projects and my clients), and you, my very dear blog readers, are secondary. (No offense, but The Whore has a job to do and bills to pay, and so our little conversations are a luxury for me. I do hope you understand.)

Like many marketers, much of the work I do is behind the scenes. The science of targeting and the crafting of campaigns takes time and is rather unseen work, for the most part. I know some marketers (or those who like to make judgements) will say that if I was really doing my job, they'd know it. They say that if I was any good, my name would be appearing 'everywhere.'

But I disagree. Completely, utterly, disagree.

Unlike some marketers or consultants, I not only do not think the number of times my name appears is a sign of my doing my job but in fact find it a statement to the contrary.

My job is to market my products or my clients/clients' projects, not myself. Every time I see a press release with the name of the agency on it, even as a tiny last line, I am amazed at the audacity. Unless your agency is actually the one taking the calls for you (and then I wonder why on earth you'd have some one other than yourself talk to the media or consumers ~ how can anyone possibly know more about you, your company and products more than you?!), why is their name even on any release, advertisement or other information?

Yes, these third parties should be arranging conversations between you and your target market, and that may be started in the media via a release etc., but shouldn't they be more like a friend setting you up on a blind date? The agency or other professional should introduce you to the contact (via whatever means you've discussed) and then get out of the way, leaving you to talk. If my sister or friend says she has this great guy for me to meet and then actively participates in our first date ~ monopolizing the conversation, I'd be more than suspicious... She must want this guy for herself. Ditto on the marketing professional who must surely have an agenda of their own.

Worse than a third wheel, these types of agenda driven folks are more like a steering wheel. They try to (and often do) take control of where everything is going. And the destination is not about you, but rather about them. They want their name or business to prosper & shine; not yours. That's not what you are paying for, is it? Like ad companies who are more interested in winning a Cleo than you selling your inventory, consultants, agencies and marketers who stand in the middle of the conversation are more interested in their name and agenda than yours. So every time I see that third party mentioned, I cringe.

I figure my job is to sell what I've been hired to sell, and that rarely is me. So why should my name appear 'everywhere' when it's not about me?

In the case of third parties, silence may in fact be golden.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Rankings, Smankings? (Part One)

I've never been a huge fan of Alexa, but as it was the only free resource, it was a name and a tool you needed to know about. So here's what I know ~ that I think you should know. *wink*

Alexa admits to problems:
The traffic data are based on the set of toolbars that use Alexa data, which may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population. Known biases include (but are likely not limited to) the following:

* Our users are disproportionately likely to visit sites that are featured on alexa.com such as amazon.com and archive.org, and traffic to these sites may be overcounted.
* The extent to which our sample may overcount or undercount users of the various browsers is unknown. Alexa's sample includes users of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Mozilla browsers. The AOL/Netscape and Opera browser is not supported, which means that sites operated by these companies may be undercounted.
* The extent to which our sample may overcount or undercount users of various operating systems is unknown. Alexa sample includes toolbars built for Windows, Macintosh and Linux.
* The rate of adoption of Alexa software in different parts of the world may vary widely due to advertising locality, language, and other geographic and cultural factors. For example, to some extent the prominence of Chinese sites among our top-ranked sites reflects known high rates of general Internet usage in China, but there may also be a disproportionate number of Chinese Alexa users.
* In some cases traffic data may also be adversely affected by our "site" definitions. With tens of millions of hosts on the Internet, our automated procedures for determining which hosts are serving the "same" content may be incorrect and/or out-of-date. Similarly, the determinations of domains and home pages may not always be accurate. When these determinations change (as they do periodically), there may be sudden artificial changes in the Alexa traffic rankings for some sites as a consequence.
* The Alexa Toolbar turns itself off on secure pages (https:). Sites with secure page views will be under-represented in the Alexa traffic data.

In addition to the biases above, the Alexa user base is only a sample of the Internet population, and sites with relatively low traffic will not be accurately ranked by Alexa due to the statistical limitations of the sample. Alexa's data come from a large sample of several million Alexa Toolbar users; however, this is not large enough to accurately determine the rankings of sites with fewer than roughly 1,000 total monthly visitors. Generally, Traffic Rankings of 100,000+ should be regarded as not reliable because the amount of data we receive is not statistically significant. Conversely, the more traffic a site receives (the closer it gets to the number 1 position), the more reliable its Traffic Ranking becomes.
(And one should note that just a few years ago, on the matter of software adoption, they said this: "The rate of adoption of Alexa software in different parts of the world may vary widely due to advertising locality, language, and other geographic and cultural factors. For example, Korean sites are prominent among our top-ranked sites, but it is unknown to what extent this reflects high rates of general Internet usage in Korea.")

I've got a friend who has had access to Nielsen//NetRatings from time to time, and she swears that once you get into the top 100,000 sites the numbers/rankings are virtually the same. She, and others, call the Top 100,000 The Big Boys.

But what does it all mean? How big is Big?

Alexa's blog explains:
Let's break it down by Alexa's Rankings, starting with the Top 500. Out of a total of 18 million sites to choose from, the Top 500 represent less than .003% of sites. But, as you would expect, these sites get a disproportionate amount of traffic. In fact they get 45% of all traffic. No, that's not a misprint. The odds that any Web surfer in the world is on a Top 500 site at any give time is about 50/50.

Moving down the rankings, if you take Alexa's Top 100,000 sites you'll find that almost 3 out every 4 clicks are spoken for. In other words, almost 75% of all the traffic on the web goes to the sites in the Top 100K list, leaving the remaining 18 million or so sites to fight over the scraps.

Like the distribution of wealth on the planet, the distribution of traffic on the Web is extremely lopsided. The Top 500 are champagne and caviar. Sites 501 - 100,000 are meat and potatoes. The rest are hungry.
These are the sites that Alexa swears it is accurate on.

But is that true?

Alexa, like most things SEO, can be manipulated. I remember back when Backwash.com was pushing for increasing the ranking at Alexa, we were all encouraged to download the toolbar to record our visits to Backwash. Our ranking increased, and miraculously, while the site is at any given moment broken or not even live (likely accounting for the huge decrease in traffic), the site still has a nice Alexa ranking. Why? Well, here I'm going to refer you to Wow My Alexa Ranking is Great! Should I Trust It?.

One thing often overlooked in the Alexa accuracy problem is the bias that's built into their toolbar. Francesco Mapelli says it clearly:
Alexa's stats are based on the data collected by the users that installed the Alexa Toolbar. Fine. But who's intrested in downloading the alexa toolbar? What does the alexa toolbar offers?

* a search field (present in IE and Firefox, and with real search engines)
* popup blocking (present in IE and Firefox)
* traffic report
* site owner info
* related sites ( competitors? )

as you can see, the main features here are useful for webmasters, bloggers, site owners, SEOers etc.

This is not stuff for the average surfer!
It's webmasters jockeying and researching using the Alexa toolbar; not average surfers.

As if this all weren't bad enough, check out We Bought An Alexa Ranking.

Any webmaster who checks their stats (and I don't mean you have to be religious about it like The Whore is) can quickly see if Alexa is at all accurate for their site. In my case, my sites must not swing Asian enough for it's really inaccurate.

So what can you use? Well, I'll get to that soon. I've got to study the info a bit more first.

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